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People do not completely agree as to which countries are in Latin America, but in most cases, it is made up of the parts where Spanish and Portuguese are spoken. This includes most of South America and Central America (sometimes also the Caribbean islands), and also Mexico in North America. Others consider the places in the Americas (except those in Canada and the United States) which speak French to be part of Latin America, because it is also a Romance language.
Demographics[change | change source]
Ethnic groups[change | change source]
- Native American or indigenous. The Native population in Latin America, came during the Lithic stage. There are more than sixty million of these people. They are the majority only in Bolivia, Peru, and Guatemala. In Ecuador they are a large minority of about 1/4 of the population. Mexico's Native American population is nearly 30%, and is also one of the largest American Indian population in the Americas in terms of absolute numbers. Most of the remaining countries have Native American minorities.
- European. In the 1500s, many Iberian colonists came to what is now Latin America. Today, most White Latin Americans are of Spanish and Portuguese origin. The Iberians brought their language, religion, and culture to Latin America.
- African. Millions of African slaves were brought to the Americas from the early 1500s onward. The majority went to the Caribbean and Brazil. Haiti is the only country in Latin America with a Black or Mulatto majority.
- Asian. People of Asian descent number several millions in Latin America. The majority of Asian Latin Americans are of Japanese and Chinese heritage, and they mostly live in Peru and Brazil. The largest community of Japanese ethnicity living outside of Japan, resides in Brazil. There is also a growing Chinese population in Panama, as well as Costa Rica (though, Chinese Costa Ricans are a large minority). In the Dominican Republic, there is a place where large numbers of Japanese people came; most Japanese Dominicans live in towns such as Bonao and Santo Domingo.
- Arab or Middle Eastern. Arabs in Latin America are also many, but they are mostly found among the Hispanic-Caribbean regions. In Cuba and Puerto Rico. In the Dominican Republic, the Arabs arrived sometime between the 19th and 20th century; (most are Morracians, Lebanese and East Indians).
- NOTE: Most of these ethnic groups can be found anywhere in Latin America; but since most Latin Americans are of mixed-race, many of these ethnic groups do not reach 100%.
Language[change | change source]
Spanish and Portuguese are the most common languages in Latin America. Portuguese is the official language of Brazil, while Spanish is the official language of most other Latin America mainland countries, and of Cuba, Puerto Rico (along with English), and the Dominican Republic.
Many people speak Native American languages in Peru, Guatemala, Bolivia, Paraguay and Mexico. These languages are less common in other countries, but in some countries like Bolivia, they are considered official along with the main European language.
Other Indo-European languages spoken in Latin America include English (mainly in Puerto Rico but also in Guyana), French (spoken in Haiti and French Guiana), and Dutch (in Suriname). Although French is also spoken in the Canadian province of Quebec and the American state of Louisiana, these countries are not considered part of Latin America because they are mostly English-speaking. Guyana, French Guiana (one of the overseas territories of France), and Suriname, which are found the northern part of South America and known together as the Guianas, are the only places in South America that do not speak Spanish or Portugese.
In several nations, Creole languages are also spoken, especially in the Caribbean. Palenquero is the Spanish-based Creole language spoken in Colombia by some 3,000 people, it is Spanish with many African influences and some Portuguese influence. Other creoles in mainland Latin America have the same roots, blending Spanish with either African or Indigenous languages or both, as Cuban Spanish does. The island of Haiti also has a well-known creole language, called Haitian Creole.
Economy[change | change source]
Poverty and inequality[change | change source]
Poverty continues to be one of the biggest challenges for Latin American countries. According to estimates, Latin America is the most unequal regions of the world. According to a Country Studies Institute the poorest countries in the region (in 2011) were: Haiti, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Honduras. Undernourishment affects 72% of Haitians, 47% of Nicaraguans and Bolivians, and 32% of Hondurans.
Religions[change | change source]
Related pages[change | change source]
References[change | change source]
- Colburn, Forrest D (2002). Latin America at the End of Politics. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691091811.
- Lizcano Fernández, Francisco (May–August 2005). "Composición Étnica de las Tres Áreas Culturales del Continente Americano al Comienzo del Siglo XXI" (in Spanish) (PDF). Convergencia (Mexico: Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México, Centro de Investigación en Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades) 38: 185–232; table on p. 218. ISSN 1405-1435. http://convergencia.uaemex.mx/rev38/38pdf/LIZCANO.pdf.
Other websites[change | change source]
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Latin America.|
- The Washington Post Interactive Map of Politics in Latin America
- Andean Community official webpage
- Council on Hemispheric Affairs
- Latin American Network Information Center
- Latin America Working Group
- Washington Office on Latin America
- Politics in Latin America
- Infolatam. Information and analysis of Latin America